Tips for Holiday Food Safety

As we head into the holidays, with lots of cooking and parties, now is a good time to brush up on how to prepare food safely and cut down on the risk of a foodborne illness.

Foodborne illness is a real problem. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are 76 million cases annually in the United States, and that includes 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,200.

Symptoms of a foodborne illness can begin to show up anywhere from a few hours to a few days after eating contaminated food, which means the last meal you eat before getting sick may not always be the culprit - it could be food from a few days back. This can be particularly true at Thanksgiving, parties and other special meals, where food may be left out for a long period of time.

Tips to Keep Your Holiday Meals and Guests Healthy

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service.

For more information or for a free presentation on food safety, contact the Haywood County Cooperative Extension at 828-456-3575. You may also visit the USDA website, or the U.S. Food & Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition website.

  1. Danger Zone
  2. When You Chill Food
  3. When You Transport Food
  4. When You Reheat Food
  5. When You Keep Food Hot/Cold
  6. When You Serve Food
  7. When You Finish Up

Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 and 140 °F. To keep food out of this “Danger Zone,” keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Keep food cold in the refrigerator, in coolers, or on the serving line on ice. Keep hot food in the oven, in heated chafing dishes, or in preheated steam tables, warming trays and/or slow cookers.

Never leave perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles in the “Danger Zone” over 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.